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Soccer or Tennis?

Among friends and family, Matt and I have speculated quite a bit as to whether Simon would settle on soccer or tennis for his go-to competitive sport. It sounds silly, but he’s been playing both for over two years, loves both, is pretty good at both, and is encouraged by coaches at both. Odds are, he’s going to stay sporty—even, dare I say, athletic.

But which sport is his true calling? Until two days ago, I would have said tennis. He doesn’t talk about it the same way as soccer, but I chalked that up to how much time kids spend learning the game before they can play for points or compete in tournaments. Tennis has a longer lead time than soccer.

In the back of my mind I was also thinking that there might be less competition in tennis (everyone plays soccer), that Simon might be naturally slightly better at tennis, and that, as a lefty, he possesses a potent weapon for the game. Tennis seemed a better bet for making the team in high school and beyond.

Matt has been rooting for soccer. He loves watching tennis, watching Simon play tennis, and playing tennis with Simon. But he also sees how tennis, as an individual sport, can become psychologically intense and isolating in a way soccer, as a team sport, does not. Or, as he puts it, “Tennis makes you psychotic. I hope he ends up choosing soccer.”

Of those with opinions, it has been split. My mom votes for soccer. My father-in-law votes for tennis. My brother Steve votes for hockey. (Not going to happen, Steve!) My brother Perry votes for engineering. (Actual quote: “If I have to watch a sport—and I think they are all boring—I’d rather watch soccer than football. At least in soccer they are running around trying to do something, whereas in football they spend most of the time standing around scratching themselves.” Those, my friends, are the words of a non-fan of the highest order.)

But what does Simon say? I mean, he says soccer, I know that. He plays it whenever he can, thinks about it when he’s not playing, and even dreams about it at night. But why? What makes him like or think he likes the one sport more than the other?

As it turns out, it turns on the simplest thing in the world. Behold our conversation from last week:

“Simon, do you think you’ll ever love tennis more than you love soccer?”

“No way!”

“But why not? You love tennis and always give it your all when you play. What’s the difference?”

“Mama, don’t be silly. You can’t kick anything when you play tennis.”


“Kicking, mama. Kicking is awesome.”

“But in tennis you get to whack stuff. Isn’t whacking also awesome?”

“I guess a little, but not as much as kicking. Kicking is the best.”

And there you have it. The difference isn’t about the schedule, scoring, or general culture of the games. It isn’t about any of the criteria I would have thought went into developing a preference. No, according to Simon at least, it all boils down to the obvious, essential truth that kicking is better than hitting.

Words to live by!


One Response to “Soccer or Tennis?”

  1. goldsteinrita says:

    I think this is totally a BOY thing and absolutely hilarious!

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